Weeknight Cooking

Tender Meatballs + Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs

October 21, 2014

This post is brought to you by our friends at Weight Watchers, who celebrate gathering together around the table to enjoy wholesome, beautiful food.

For many of us, leaving work does not signify the start of a relaxing evening. Before we can kick off our shoes and let the stress of the day melt away, we must start our trek home. This could mean a 30 minute train ride with two transfers and one too many passengers, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, or a long walk in impractical footwear. When you finally make it home, the last thing you want is to figure out dinner. You just want to soak your feet in a warm bath -- then take a nap. 

The bad news is that we can't promise you a foot soak. The good news? We've got dinner covered: tender, juicy, fall-apart meatballs, browned in the oven for extra flavor, and a bright chard salad with a garlicky bite. These dishes can be made on a whim, but they'll taste -- and feel -- like they were meant to be. 

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Click through on the recipe photos or titles to see (and save and print) the full recipes, but we've also written you a handy grocery list and game plan below.

Extra Tender Meatballs by Merrill Stubbs


Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Parmesan by Merrill Stubbs

Grocery List

Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch Swiss chard
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 lemon
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground veal
1 3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, minced

We're assuming you have salt and extra-virgin olive oil. If not, be sure to add those to your list, too. 

The Plan

1. Wash and chop: Wash and dry the chard and remove the stems from the leaves. Then chop the onion and two of the cloves of garlic. Mince the third clove and set it aside from the other two. 

2. Make the salad dressing: Zest and juice the lemon. Combine the juice (you should have about 2 1/2 tablespoons), 1 teaspoon of the zest, and a few generous pinches of salt in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in a 1/4 cup of olive oil and set the dressing aside. 

3. Brown the onions: Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium sauté pan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has begun to soften and lightly caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 cloves of chopped garlic and continue to cook until both the onion and garlic are soft and golden brown (be careful not to burn the garlic), about another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

4. Shape the meatballs: Toast 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs in a dry pan until they're crisp and golden brown; set them aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, ground veal, toasted breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, Worcerstershire sauce, and mayonnaise. Combine everything thoroughly -- but gently -- using two forks, being careful not to over-mix. Using your hands, gently work in the egg and the browned onions and garlic, until just combined. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs.

5. Cook the meatballs: Brown the meatballs in a large frying pan coated with a little olive oil over medium-high heat. When they're nicely browned, nestle them snugly into a large baking dish and cover with foil. Bake the meatballs in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until their internal temperature reaches about 145° F.

6. Shred the chard: While the meatballs are baking, continue to work on the salad. Finely chop the chard stems and set them aside, then stack a few of the leaves on top of each other, roll them like a cigar, and slice into thin ribbons, about an 1/8-inch wide. Repeat until all of the leaves are shredded. 

6. Toast the breadcrumbs: Warm a 1/4 cup olive oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until they are crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes -- be careful not to burn them! Stir in the remaining clove of minced garlic and let them toast for another minute, then remove from the heat. 

7. Serve and enjoy: Once the meatballs are out of the oven, put the chard stems and leaves into a large bowl and toss gently with the remaining Parmesan cheese and about 2/3 of the lemon dressing. Taste and add more dressing, if you like. Toss in the toasted breadcrumbs and serve immediately, alongside the hot meatballs. 

Photos by James Ransom

This post is brought to you by Weight Watchers. Need ideas for dinner tomorrow? They've got you covered. Show us what you're cooking with the hashtag #biteintolife! 

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Kate Snider

Written by: Kate Snider